Be a Top Business Fish with Mindfulness
In my previous piece in this short series on Mindfulness exclusive to Thoughts And Ideas I looked at the key role that Mindfulness could play in Educating our children for their future — By improving the pedagogy, enriching classroom practice and providing transformational leadership that the teaching profession so desperately needs to ensure our children and future generations attain, fulfill their full potential and succeed in tomorrow’s world.
In this piece I want to look at Mindfulness and the key role it can play in the corporate world. How it can enhance business performance and contribute to employee wellbeing and increased productivity and profitability.
But 1st, a question — What Are Secret Business Mondays?
“Have you heard the word, Johannesburg”, was the refrain from a 1970’s protest song by Gil Scott Heron and Brian Jackson. I used to listen to it on Radio Caroline, broadcasting off the coast of East Anglia in the UK, between Felixstowe and Clacton.
There have been many ‘Words’ since then — Calls to Arms, Signifiers, Totems, Attractors — &, one that is creating quite a buzz today, both on the streets and in Board Rooms, is Mindfulness.
It already has cult like status in the Business World and CEO’s from all sectors are calling it their new secret weapon; giving both them and their companies added potency and greater oomph! (a rather excellent business term, don’t you think?)
Secret Business Mondays are in fact Mindful Business Drop-Ins and they’re happening everywhere.
In New York and London, Paris and Mumbai.
Indeed, if you’re reading this and it is a Monday, one could be happening just around the corner from you now.
But why has Mindfulness become the new best friend of Business and what difference can it make to the hard-nosed corporate world?
Indeed, such a difference that one multinational company reported +147% higher earnings per share following the introduction of an in-house Mindfulness programme.
Boosting the Bottom Line
Mindfulness is not just about zoning out, but zooming in — Its paying Attention to the present moment and decluttering the brain to make room for creativity — &, in Business that can mean boosting the bottom line.
Mindfulness makes business better from the inside out, because it puts the heart back into the workplace.
It gets people talking about stuff that is human and relatable — &, do you know what?
Yes — People do business with people!
Perhaps that’s why Hedge Funds and Banks, Public Transport, Distillers, Insurance, High-Tech, On-Line and Social Media companies like Adobe, Apple, eBay, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, are all embracing it.
Constant Motion and Commotion
But, if you ask me, there’s more to it than that… We live and work in a world that is in constant motion and commotion and on the edge of change, if not chaos, day-in day-out.
Nothing particularly new in that though, is there?
In the 1980’s Tom Peters was telling us we were ‘Thriving on Chaos’. Whilst a few years before that in the late 1970’s, John Kotter and Leonard Schlesinger wrote in their book ‘Strategies For Change’, that organisations experience some form of change once a year and a major upheaval at least once every 5 years.
And 100 years before that Henry Ford observed that people were constantly going about their business, “with nervous hands and worried minds”.
So, here are some Figs
There is an increasing recognition amongst employers today that a high stress and non-supportive working environment can have a highly toxic impact, not just on performance and productivity, but on labour costs as well.
But in the companies or organisations where Mindfulness programmes have been introduced — & these can be as diverse as Transport for London & the US Army — Goldman Sachs (Bankers) & Carlsberg (Brewers) — the results have been pretty awesome:
- 88% of participants from one multinational insurance company reported improved concentration, greater creativity and higher productivity;
- A 71% fall in the days taken for anxiety, stress and depression, were reported in a major UK Transport Company; &
- A 7% fall in Health Care Costs followed the introduction of a 12 week Mindfulness programme for employees working in a US company employing over 47,000 people, which is quite a significant saving
Indeed these are some pretty hard-nosed figures, but this is just the tip of a pretty mighty iceberg.
And in general following the introduction of Mindfulness programmes in the workplace, we are talking about:
- Better employee engagement and enhanced employer/employee relationships
- Increased mental and physical resilience
- Marked reductions in overall stress and feeling overwhelmed
- Better decision making; &
- Greater tolerance and less workplace conflict
I think this all adds up to a pretty compelling case for why even the most hard-nosed business — Large or Small — Local, Regional, National or International — &, in whatever sector — should be taking a long hard look at what Mindfulness is and how they might introduce it into the workplace!
But how do you introduce it?
This might be through lunchtime Taster Sessions, encouraging staff to stop multi-tasking and rather to focus on doing just one thing at a time. Or, even suggesting that employees should have regular screen breaks, or time away from the shop floor.
To start, &, here’s the thing — Just start — It could be as simple as having a daily Mindful Coffee Break, where you begin with a deep breath and take a few moments to notice where you are and how your body feels.
Then notice how you feel — taking note of the thoughts passing through your mind as you do.
Allow yourself to feel the sensation of the cup, the shape, surface texture, the touch as it fits snugly in your hand, and the rising warmth from the steaming brew.
Enjoy the rich coffee aroma and then savour the taste in the present moment, followed by the memory of past cups of coffee.
Then return to the present moment experience as you remind yourself that it’s OK if your mind wanders — You just simply bring it back to the present moment, whilst you take a sip, continue savouring, and enjoy.
Or, what about having a pre-presentation or pre-meeting Mindful Stretch, where in a quiet place you simply stand up straight and open up your chest.
Then with your feet at hip-distance, lift your hands in the air with palms facing forward and take some deep breaths as you enjoy the sensations of the open body posture and the feel of release as you stretch your body.
It really is that simple. So, promise me one thing.
Let’s put Well Being and well Doing onto the corporate agenda and bring Mindfulness into every workplace, However large, however small.
If you’re an employer, set aside time and room — Start to offer lunchtime Mindfulness Taster Sessions — Encourage staff to stop multi-tasking and instead focus on doing just one thing at a time and doing that well, and also encourage them to take regular breaks.
And if you’re an employee, why don’t you get together with your colleagues and set a Mindful Challenge for your workplace.
What It Is, Is What It Is
James Brown called it Mind Power and wrote a song about it that featured on his 1973 LP, ‘The Pay Back’.
“What it is, is what it is” he sung and that is the essence of Accepting and being Mindful. Right on Brother James!
Paul Mudd is the author of ‘Uncovering Mindfulness: In Search Of A Life More Meaningful’ available on Amazon and www.bookboon.com; the ‘Coffee & A Cup of Mindfulness’ and the ‘Mindful Hacks For Mindful Living & Mindful Working’ series. He is also a Contributing Author to The Huffington Post and a Contributing Writer to Thrive Global. Through The Mudd Partnership he works with business leaders, organisations and individuals in support of change and transformation, leadership excellence, business growth, organistional and individual wellbeing and well doing, and introducing Mindfulness in the workplace and in every place. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and you can follow the continuing journey uncovering Mindfulness on Twitter @TheMindfulBook and at @Paul_Mudd